( The following news item was published in the “Daily Financial Times” of November 12th 2018 under the heading “MR takes SLPP membership” relating to the joining of SLPP By Mahinda Rajapaksa,Namal Rajapaksa and 31 others from the SLFP-UPFA. There was also a picture of a smiling Mahinda with SLPP chairman GL Peiris and SLPP secretary Sagara Kariyawasam. This is being re-posted here in the context of the current situation where it is argued by the UNP, TNA and SLMC in Parliament that the Kurunegala District MP Mahinda Rajapaksa has forfeited his MP seat by joining the SLPP a month ago.)
“MR takes SLPP membership”
Namal follows father, triggers about 31 other crossovers from SLFP
Ananda Aluthgamage leaves UNP for SLPP
At least six more crossovers likely in the next few days
By Nuwan Senarathna
Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday formally left the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and joined the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) to contest a likely General Election, which is scheduled to be held on 5 January 2019.
Rajapaksa and as many as 30 other SLFP members joined the SLPP at the event held at Rajapaksa’s official residence at Wijerama Mawatha, Colombo.
Responding to questions on the questionable constitutionality of the dissolution of Parliament and the early call for general elections, Rajapaksa insisted that it was all above board in his view.
“Everyone must read the Constitution as a whole, not just the 19th Amendment. Under the Constitution, the President has the right to dissolve Parliament and call an election immediately, it is not an anti-democratic move. We are seeking a mandate from the people. Therefore if anyone challenges the right of the people to vote, then they are going against the people.”
“Let the people decide. If we are wrong, they will vote against us,” he added.
Rajapaksa also told reporters that he would consult lawyers on the legality of his appointment as the Prime Minister and President Maithripala Sirisena’s decision to dissolve Parliament to call for an election ahead of the scheduled time period.
“I am confident that I will win the election.”
He also noted that he would reach out to the international community to explain the position taken by President Maithripala Sirisena and himself.
“The international community must realise this is democracy. Reaching out to people and seeking their mandate is not undemocratic.”
Namal Rajapaksa also crossed over with his father and became a member of the SLPP and was among 32 other Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) members who crossed over.
Accordingly, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Mahinda Yapa Abeywardene, C.B. Ratnayake, Janaka Bandara Thennakoon, Johnston Fernando, Mahindananda Aluthgamage, Priyankara Jayaratne, Rohitha Abeygunawardena, Prasanna Ranatunga, Dulip Wijesekara, Janaka Wakkumbura, Namal Rajapaksa, Shehan Semasingh, Thenuka Widanagamage, Arundika Fernando, Kanchana Wijesekara, Nimal Lanza, Indika Anuruddha, Prasanna Ranaweera, D.V. Chanaka, Anura Priyadarashana Yapa, T.B. Ekanayake, Chandima Weerakkody, Susantha Punchinilame, Lakshman Yapa Abeywardena, Sumeda G. Jayasena, Sudarshani Fernandopulle, Tharanath Basnayake, Sanath Nishantha, Kanaka Herath, Gamini Lokuge, W.D.J. Senewiratna, Susil Premajayantha and Premalal Jayasekara have all left the SLFP.
Wimalaweera Dissanayake and Lohan Ratwatte had joined the SLPP earlier on Saturday.
Meanwhile, United National Party (UNP) member Ananda Aluthgamage also joined the SLPP at Prime Minister Rajapaksa’s official residence. Members of the SLFP Dilum Amunugama, Ranjith Soysa, Tharaka Balasuriya, Vidura Wickramanayake, Dallas Alahapperuma and Piyal Nishantha confirmed to the Daily FT that they would also join the SLPP in due course.